Every architect wants their building to stand the test of time. So when mapping out their blueprint, they must ensure that one critical part is perfect before any construction begins: the foundation.
If the foundation of a building is off, it can be catastrophic to the finished product. Just look at the leaning tower of Pisa: one small mistake—the clay it was built on—has caused this tower to be problematic off and on for almost 1,000 years.
While creating content may not be as dire as constructing a building, the same idea applies. If you produce content based on impulse or instinct, you jeopardize the effectiveness of your entire marketing strategy.
At Clearview Social, we know that building content takes time, effort, and most of all, a clear strategy to appeal to the right people. Over the next few months, we’re going to dive into everything you need to know to develop and execute a rock-solid content strategy to help build your business. Let’s get started.
The specifics of content strategy and why you need one
It’s easy to think of certain marketing terms as interchangeable, but different strategies serve specific purposes for your company. When it comes to “content” and “marketing” and “strategy,” these terms mean different things.
- Content strategy is the thinking through of how you need to connect with your target audience by planning what kind of content you’re going to produce.
- Content marketing strategy is the actual creation and distribution of the content formulated in your content strategy. This takes your content from ideation to completion.
- Marketing strategy is your company’s overall roadmap for reaching out to potential customers and converting them into buyers. This includes marketing outside of content, such as email marketing, paid social, and more.
Content strategy is crucial because it feeds into all aspects of your marketing strategy. It plays a critical role in engaging, educating, and converting customers.
61% of online consumers decided to buy a product after they read a blog post about it. But content doesn’t appear out of a vacuum. To know what type of content interests your target audience the most, you must implement a content strategy so that you don’t lose time, energy, or your customer’s interest.
Four steps to a killer content strategy
Your business has its own products, identity, company culture, and audience, and your ideal marketing strategy should reflect that. So before you make yourself a star on Facebook reels or commit to an editorial calendar of blogs, follow these four steps to start your content strategy off right.
Step 1. Identify your goals and audience
To create the right content, you need to know what you want your content to do for your company so you can measure your results effectively. Some common goals for content include:
- Generating more qualified leads
- Boosting social media engagement
- Re-engaging previous customers
- Growing your social media followers
- Ranking higher in Google’s search results
Once you know what you want your content to do for your company, you need to figure out who is going to be consuming your content—and buying your products and services.
To outline this further, create client personas. These are ideal types—the people you imagine will buy your product. Thinking carefully about them helps you create content for real people. When creating client personas, outline their:
- Living situation or lifestyle
- Relationship status
- Favorite brands
- Goals and hobbies
- Hopes and fears
- Decision motivators
During this stage, also consider the question: what is your unique value proposition? In the eyes of your customers, why would your product or service be a better fit for them than your competitors?
Step 2. Select the right types of content formats and topics
Here’s where the real heavy lifting comes in for your content strategy: choosing the right topics and formats for your content strategy.
The topics you choose should be relevant to your business. This might seem overly simplistic to mention, but it’s surprisingly easy to stray from your strategy without clear guidelines. To ensure you stay on track, take the following steps:
- Map out your main product and service lines. If you have a wide range, look at what your business goals are for the upcoming quarter and focus on the products and services that align with those goals. These will be the topics you focus on.
- Identify your audience’s issues or challenges around these products or services. What are frequently asked questions? What problems does your product solve?
- Check the news and industry trends. What developments are relevant to your business?
- Cross-check your mission and values with these topics. How can you write about them in a way that aligns with who you are as a company?
- Finally, consider what platform your content will live on. What type of topics work best for that platform?
After you’ve run through these questions, create a document where you and your team can sketch out all your ideas. Refer back to this list as you’re creating your content calendar.
There are many (many, many) different types of content out there, and it’s easier to group them in terms of where your clients will be at in different stages of the marketing funnel.
Awareness: content that teaches people about your brand for the first time
- Explainer video
- Top-level blog posts
- Employee recognition videos
- Social media content
Evaluation: content that typically interests people who have heard about your brand before
- Product demo
Purchase: content that convinces people to buy your product or connect with your business
- Email drip campaign
- Free trial
- One-on-one video consult
- Case studies
- Product comparisons
Two things to keep in mind:
- You may find that content types overlap throughout your sales funnel. For example, a long blog introducing your audience to the basics of a topic might inspire them to buy right away, whereas a bottom-of-the-funnel case study might be the first time someone sees your brand.
- Because you can’t predict when exactly people will enter your sales funnel, it’s important to have a healthy mix of content.
To keep your content strategy flexible and robust, you should plan for a mix of video content, social media content, and written content like blog posts. As you move forward, see which ones work best for your company and refine your strategy.
Pro tip: If you don’t have the bandwidth to do all of this to start, focus on the type that is most likely to attract your target audience.
Step 3. Create a content calendar
A content calendar ensures that you’re posting content regularly and that the content you’re making aligns with your marketing goals and strategies. Your calendar is the go-to place for everyone in your company who’s working on content.
Your content calendar creates the workflow for your content strategy. Make sure it includes:
- Content topics and titles
- The target audience of the content
- The person creating the content
- The first draft’s due date
- The second draft’s due date (and who is doing the editing of the piece)
- Any relevant SEO guidance for the content
- When the piece of content goes live
Plan out as far as you need to for your content calendar, but not so far that you can’t make changes as needed. It’s good to schedule at least a month in advance. Leave room to add content based on breaking news, changes in products and services, and more.
Also, consider how you’ll create content based on SEO. While you shouldn’t stuff long lists of keywords into your content with no regard for user experience, you do need to implement some level of SEO if having a high ranking on Google is important to you.
If you’re not sure where to start, try some of these free tools to build out your SEO and keyword research:
Each of these tools works differently, but you can use them to look up focus keywords to include, as well as topics that your audience is interested in.
Step 4. Map out your editorial plan
Creating content is only the first step.
You need a plan for editing your content as well within your content strategy. Depending on how you want to position your company, you may need to enlist external fact-checkers and subject matter experts to approve or add details to your content.
Make sure that a separate person edits and proofreads all written content before it goes out. It’s a bad look to post a blog touting your professional experience, only to have a glaring typo in the first paragraph.
Last, secure the final sign-off. Whether it’s the top-level marketing exec or the owner of the company, make sure that nothing is posted without the right person giving the final approval.
If you’re ready to get started on your social media content strategy, download this free template from Clearview Social.
⚡ Power up your content strategy with Clearview Social ⚡
Clearview Social’s employee advocacy software maximizes your content strategy. We offer tools to simplify honing in on your target audience, including our:
- PeakTime feature that automatically shares content for you at the time of the day when the majority of your audience is online
- Article builder tool that creates a queue of articles relevant to your business that can be planned out at the time that’s right for you
- Easy-to-read metrics that simplify content audits and give you actionable steps to improve your content strategy
If you’re ready to make a powerful content strategy that makes your goals a reality , schedule a demo with Clearview Social today.